Excessive Venery, Masturbation, and Continence by William Howe – Chapter Eight

Chapter VIII – Diseases of the Genitals Associated with Spermatorrhea and Impotence. In this chapter, we begin with phimosis, which is when the prepuce, or foreskin of the penis, will not retract. Now, not being a dude, I had no idea that that’s pretty common until puberty in a number of males. Anyway, it usually doesn’t cause pain, modern doctors say, unless you get an infection from not being able to clean that portion of your penis properly.

Dr. Howe says that the discharge begins and is almost cheeselike, but overtimes becomes dry and hard, which causes males, especially children, to do strange things such as masturbate. Gee, I wonder why? Could it be that they were looking for relief so they kept moving the skin the best way they could? Nah, it’s because they are sinful creatures! Anyway, if it keeps up it makes intercourse hurt and makes the man temporarily impotent. It also sometimes gives men symptoms that affect other areas of the body.

And now, a story, because Dr. H always has plenty of stories. A patient of his, a clergyman, who of course had “good habits” and the like, was having issues with his throat. It took many a minute in the pulpit afore his voice could be heard expounding on the wrath of God and what have you. Everything that had been tried had failed. And for years, the head of his penis ailed him every time he attempted to make it with his wife. So, of course, he stopped trying and was having constant nocturnal emissions, the same old story. When he was examined by the good doctor, he found that the prepuce could not be pushed back. So he circumcised him, putting the patient under an anesthetic, wonder of wonders! In modern, gross slangy terminology, it appears the smegma had accumulated under his foreskin and hardened, so it had to be scraped off. And then the entire portion was dressed with a cloth covered in olive oil! And surprise, surprise, when the clergyman returned to the pulpit his voice was no longer affected. You see, boys and girls? This is why all body parts need careful cleaning and attention!

Another case of this ilk was related to him by another doctor, this time concerning a three year old. His mother took him to the doctor for what she called “spasms of ecstasy.” The little boy laughed inappropriately, eyes always bright and shiny although appearing not to see, and could not stand on his own. His penis, on the other hand, was constantly standing, so maybe the rest of the little boy’s body was tired. The boy was circumcised on the spot and shook hands with the doctor, to everyone’s amazement. He had improved considerably but was not completely “cured” as he still couldn’t hold up his head on his own and could only speak several words. Oh, to live in a time when doctors knew so little about mental deficiencies!

The doctor relates several other cases, none of which were as interesting as the two above. In conclusion, phimosis provokes masturbation, for it irritates the genitals and causes the child or man to rub them when no one is looking. Therefore, circumcision is the best defense; it’s sanitary and protects the person from the debasement and horrible habit that is soon to follow.

He also admits at this point that there are times when enlarged and inflamed prostates can occur without having to be a self-polluter or indulger in sexual excess. The recommendations were mostly the same as before, sitz baths and enemas; however, the new items of note are painting the perineum with iodine, and a brisk rubbing with a flesh brush. Ohh, is THAT what the kids were callin’ it in those days? Oh, wait, they didn’t know what sex actually was, so never mind. One other way he prescribes for enlarged prostates is to blister the perineum, and then follow this with MERCURY ointment. It’s a wonder people even lived to an age to procreate!

Malformations of the penis can be congenital or acquired. He speaks of redeposited cartilage in elderly persons which interferes with erections, and so on. Then he teaches us something very new: if you’re born without a penis, you’re impotent. If you have a very small penis, or a “stump” (his words), you can still have sex, and even have children from this very stubby union. He relates a story of a man who had a 3/4in. peen and wanted to have a child; his physician advised him to have a glass tube made that he could fit on his penis and thus facilitate procreative intercourse. He wraps up the paragraph by saying point-blank what Dr. Mary Wood-Allen could not: all that’s needed for intercourse is the semen going into the vagina.

There is a section wherein he cites other doctors that have come across impotence stemming from what we would call anal fissures now, and they’re quite detailed and, well, gross. We don’t need to discuss them further.

Tobacco, sayeth the doctor, does not entirely cause impotence, but it sure does increase the number of self-pollutions one does in a day! He cites two examples of this: one man had worked in a cigar factory, and it all started with the pains in his head. Over the course of treatment, it came out that he used to pleasure himself before bedtime. Aha! The second one had never masturbated . . . that is, until he started smoking! The devil-weed strikes again!

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